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Panel to meet with Imation

A delegation of state and city officials will meet Wednesday with Twin Cities-based Imation Corp. to discuss closure of the company's Wahpeton, N.D., computer diskette production plant.

A delegation of state and city officials will meet Wednesday with Twin Cities-based Imation Corp. to discuss closure of the company's Wahpeton, N.D., computer diskette production plant.

Imation announced last week that it will close its 95-acre Wahpeton campus by mid-2009. The latest count shows that it could result in the loss of 393 jobs, said Jane Priebe, the city's economic development director.

"We want Imation's help in making this transition," North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven said Monday. "We want to make sure that we replace those jobs and keep those people in the community."

Hoeven has assembled an 11-member task force to help affected Imation employees receive unemployment benefits and find new jobs.

The task force will also focus on replacing lost jobs, either through local business expansion or bringing in new companies, Hoeven said.

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"We hope to find out from Imation what their exit plan is," said Wahpeton Mayor Jim Sturdevant. "We really want to find out what their total strategy is."

The city wants to learn if Imation knows of other companies that may be interested in moving to the Wahpeton campus and taking advantage of job skills that now exist, Sturdevant said.

"We really think we could have a positive outcome if we can find a buyer to replace Imation," Priebe said. "We think there's a lot of opportunities for that campus."

The Wahpeton plant site contains three buildings with 386,000 square feet of production space, she said.

"That's pretty attractive, especially if you can get that property for a fair price," Priebe said.

Imation has promised to continue leasing the 128,000-square-foot building owned by the Wahpeton Community Development Corp. Five years remain on a 10-year lease with the city, Priebe said.

Task force members

Shane Goettle, North Dakota commerce commissioner; Maren Daley, executive director, Job Service North Dakota; Jim Sturdevant, Wahpeton mayor; Clare Carlson, North Dakota director USDA Rural Development; John Richman, president, North Dakota State College of Science, Wahpeton; Dan McElroy, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development; Paul Lucy, North Dakota Department of Commerce Economic Development and Finance director; Merlin Beto, Job Service North Dakota manager in Wahpeton; Jane Priebe, Wahpeton economic development director; Brad Pauly, Wahpeton Community Development Corp.; Shawn Kessel, Wahpeton city administrator.

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Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502

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